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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Persist in Prayer: The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

                                                         Persist in Prayer

The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 24, 2022

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Genesis 18:20-32; Psalm 138; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13


          Sometimes we question the purpose of prayer as we ask, “Why should I pray? What is the effect of prayer upon God? Why does it seem as if God does not answer prayer very well.” We also realize that the church does not teach Christians how to pray. Preachers tell people to pray, they tell them to pray the Rosary or to ask for intercession by a saint, or to say the Our Father, but the preacher in his homilies does not instruct people how to pray. I wish I had time to do that today because that is what I like to do most of all, but in responding to these readings, I will point out several reasons why our prayer is effective.


          In Genesis, we hear Abraham’s petition to God to spare the lives of even just a single innocent person. Abraham wants all innocent lives to be saved, and it was important for him to speak those words to God, who responded to him. As the conversation with God continued, Abraham had to constantly petition God to care for the lives of the just. Some people might have walked away when they heard God’s answer, but Abraham persisted. The prayer changed Abraham and tested his heart. By the end, he finally spoke plainly about what he wanted, and his heart was softened. He cared so much for the innocent, that it caused him great pain, and he looked to God for hope. God relented and spared not just the innocent, but the wicked as well.


          In the Gospel, Jesus wants us to be just as persistent in prayer and to understand that we are called to act. While asking and seeking are passive activities, knocking on the door is active. The strength of our words must be followed up by action. Then, we trust in the goodness of God, and that trust is the fruit of our prayers.


          Here are three aspects of our prayer. (1.) We recognize God’s omnipotent authority over all things, and prayer reminds us that we are dependent upon God. In our prayers, we often cling to life and it is right that we lay before God all our fears and limitations. (2.) God response to us is found in the prayer itself. Just as Abraham prayed for God to spare the righteous, it caused Abraham to act, and God’s Presence was there. God heard, and God gave Abraham the desire to spare the lives of the just. Our prayer causes us to act; our prayer causes us to knock on the door. (3.) What we may be lacking, that is, what we pray for recognizes that God’s Presence will be translated into our courage, action, and hope for a resolution. We find that God is present because God accompanies and empowers us. 


          The answer to our prayers lies in God’s response to human needs. Our prayers ought to recognize our dependence upon God as we face our limitations. We do not have much control over anything. Control is an illusion, and we have to embrace what we cannot achieve. We need to also examine the limits of our love, those places where we fail to love, those areas where our love cannot bring about what we most desire. We voice the very same thing Abraham voiced – that we look to the victory of hope over the limits of our love. Our prayers bring us hope, and we cling to live one more day. We act in accord with that hope, as we know God is working tirelessly to keep our hope alive.


Scripture for Daily Mass


First Reading: 


Monday: (2 Corinthians 4) We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

 Tuesday: (Jeremiah 14) Let my eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest,
Over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people, over her incurable wound.


Wednesday: ((Jeremiah 15) Woe to me, mother, that you gave me birth! a man of strife and contention to all the land! I neither borrow nor lend, yet all curse me.


Thursday: (Jeremiah 18) Rise up, be off to the potter’s house; there I will give you my message. I went down to the potter’s house and there he was, working at the wheel.
Whenever the object of clay which he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.

Friday (Jeremiah 26) Stand in the court of the house of the LORD and speak to the people of all the cities of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD;
whatever I command you, tell them, and omit nothing.


Saturday (Jeremiah 26) The priests and prophets said to the princes and to all the people, “This man deserves death; he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.”




Monday: (Matthew 20) The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her,
“What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.” 


Tuesday: (Matthew 13) Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”


Wednesday (Matthew 13) The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.


Thursday (Matthew 13) The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.


Friday (John 11) Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died]. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home.


Saturday (Matthew 14) Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”


Saints of the Week


July 24: Sharbel Makhuf, priest (1828-1898), joined a monastery in the Maronite tradition and lived as a hermit for 23 years after living fifteen years in the community. He became known for his wisdom and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.


July 25: James, Apostle (1st century), is the son of Zebedee and the brother of John. As fishermen, they left their trade to follow Jesus. They occupied the inner circle as friends of Jesus. James is the patron of Spain as a shrine is dedicated to him at Santiago de Compostela. He is the patron of pilgrims as many walk the Camino en route to this popular pilgrim site. 


July 26: Joachim and Anne, Mary's parents (1st century) are names attributed to the grandparents of Jesus through the Proto-Gospel of James. These names appeared in the Christian tradition though we don't know anything with certitude about their lives. Devotion of Anne began in Constantinople in the 6th century while Joachim gained acclaim in the West in the 16th century. He was revered in the Eastern churches since the earliest times. 


July 29: Martha (1st century), is the sister of Mary and Lazarus of Bethany near Jerusalem. Martha is considered the busy, activity-attentive sister while Mary is more contemplative. Martha is known for her hospitality and fidelity. She proclaimed her belief that Jesus was the Christ when he appeared after Lazarus had died. 


July 30: Peter Chrysologus, bishop and doctor (406-450), was the archbishop of Ravenna, Italy in the 5th century when the faithful became lax and adopted pagan practices. He revived the faith through his preaching. He was titled Chrysologus because of his 'golden words.'

This Week in Jesuit History


  • July 24, 1805. In Maryland, Fr. Robert Molyneux was appointed the first superior by Father General Gruber. 
  • July 25, 1581. In the house of the Earl of Leicester in London, an interview occurred between Queen Elizabeth and Edmund Campion. The Queen could scarcely have recognized the worn and broken person before her as the same brilliant scholar who had addressed here at Oxford 15 years before. 
  • July 26, 1872. At Rome, the greater part of the Professed House of the Gesu was seized and appropriated by the Piedmontese government. 
  • July 27, 1609. Pope Paul V beatifies Ignatius. 
  • July 28, 1564. In a consistory held before twenty-four Cardinals, Pope Paul IV announced his intention of entrusting the Roman Seminary to the Society. 
  • July 29, 1865. The death in Cincinnati, Ohio of Fr. Peter Arnoudt, a Belgian. He was the author of The Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 
  • July 30, 1556. As he lay near death, Ignatius asked Juan de Polanco to go and obtain for him the blessing of the pope.

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